tv Charlie Rose PBS October 2, 2009 12:00am-12:20am EDT
>> charlie: welcome to the broadcast. we begin this evening talking out science with recipients in the lasker awards one of the most prestious awards in medine and science. we talk about stem cells and new developmentsthere with john gurdon and shinya yamanaka. theyave been involved in understaing genetic basis of certain cancerand specific ugs that can besedin treatment. our ripientsare dr. brian
captioning sponsoredy rose commucations from our studios in neyork city, th is charlie rose. john gurdonnd shinya yamanaka. john pioneered e pctice o cloning through his experiments on frogs. he is now a professor at cambridge. dr. yamanaka made internatnal head lesin 200 when he nverted an adu skin cel into a stem cell without the use of an bryo. he's at the university japan. i' pleased to have both them both here at this table as they
receive the lask prize in new york. welcome. wh's interesting about this yourioneer workas 30 years ago. >> yes. >> chaie: then you ha a fullermplication. >> tt's right. >> chaie: what did you do. >> i was involdn the early nuclear transif you are experiments as we called them. >> charlie: the new chest of the cell. >> yes youake theew chest of one ce and implant into egg having removed the chrosomes from that egg. so the eg has no genetic material o its own but it reives the nucleus fro a specialized cell. any other kind o cell. and the outcome is tt this combination can develop normally. these expiments such as were explained wereone in fgs. the outcome of that is you
get an alt frog combining the nucleus ofody cell wit the egg of the amphibian. you say why should one want to do that. the's a very good reasoat that time because weidn't know whether the differe cells of the body have the same gen or they d't. >> charlie: ow you know tha th clearly do. >> i would say we know they clearly with one rather special ception. excuse m and that was an important questionn t 1950's and 60's. so this kind of expement was done to try to find out s really true, that difrent cells have the same genes. and the asoning washat if you could take t nleus of a cell, like say sn cell and combine with an e and get a normal animal, in ts ce a frog, then tt must mn that
the skin cell had all the genes necessary to makehe complet animal. that was essential the result obtained after certain numbe of years work. and i thin that led to the vie we now hold that all the cells of the body havehe same genes. >> charlie you had instantly the idea ofhe possibities positi and negative for cloning and working out all the things that were nessary to fuher the scientific progress, which is creating tissue and everythi else. >> let me comment on that when these experents were first ne, there was no inteion of creating a clone. that washe in one's mind a all. cloning bi-product. if you have an unfeatheriesed egg d you grow an animal that answerthe fundamental qstion of the conservation of th
nome as we call it. the clone was a by product of that because if you do this several tis over, starting withhe same kindsf lls, you get a large number of genetically identical individuals. likewin, identical twins b u might get 30r 40 of them. and th's noways cled a clone. that wasn't the purposef the experiment as a matter of fact, it didn't have any very particular imrtance as such. dot think it does still. >> charlie: then comes you. >> y. >> charlie: tl me what yo do. >> okay. so w sueeded in combining skin cells ba to stem cells. >> charlie: you take somebody skin yells. >> y. >> charlie: an you ca recreate the kin of original stem cells that created the tissue which created theorgan which created e person. >> yes. all stemells are very similar
to so-called bryonic stem lls. they can proliferate ridly and ke any kinds of cl in the human body. so they are very very usel. however, we have to use human embryo to identi the cells so many people are ainst e usage o es lls, embryonic stem cells. so we are worki at big programming morethan 40 years ago, he showed that es ces and skin cls, althoughthey are different, they ok different, their function are totally fferent, but h showed tt skin cells and es cells hav exactly the same grouping for cell the grouping is a set of genes.
and he showed skin cells and es cells are the same in rm of blue print. charlie: then you did what. >> so we identified very small numb of faors. namely only four factors that can convert skin cells into es-like stem cells. so all we have to do isusto put those four factors into skin cells, and after aust not, they becomes-like stemells. and we named those stem cells ip cells to produce important stem cells. charli you both know, the coroversy has been mh discussed in ter of embryonic stem cls and this isot the program to dthat. 've done that program a number times before. wh's exciting to allfs is the possibilies of whatou both in tms of the combinations of wt you he done, terms of taking a stem
cell, whher it's embryonic and en going the other direction. where ar we in that? and whats the frontiefor that? >> so with this n technology, we can do a least twoifferent things. the firsone is ki of in vitro application. so we can make ste cel from anypatients, all we need is smalskin bisy. then we can make ipf cells stem cell then we can make heart cells or muscle ces or nro cells. so those cellshave t same groung with theatient. so the we can use those heart cellor musclecells or neuro cells. >> charlie: go ead. what's fascinating to all us and i'm trying to simplify a very complited process. what's fascinating when yo take the adult cell, you can take i ck and make a sm cell and
then creat cells for as you said, muscle or sn. how does work that some create muscle an some crte ... >> so weave to instruct skin cells. we have to ad growth factors or cytokines to combine cell into any type of cells like heart cells. we'v done a lot fm development, human developme. >>harlie: how much do we understand abouthe process of going from thestem cell to the rest of thejourney. and howuch you can -- go ahead. >> this is still ongng. don't know 100 t we have new cells from ef or ipf cells very effectively and can so make hea cells ve effectively from or ipf
cells. >> charlie: but we're a long way, are we not, from being able to know w to do that and being able toknow how to t it to, let's assume in an adult, the process of getting it to, if you have damaged heart cells, place them with healthy stem cells that you cated. that portion, that iection into the heart and locating t righ place and conneing it to the old tissue is the difficult e. >> yes. so many researchs all over the world e now working very hard on those pects. but you know, because ipf cells we don' have to u human embryos. so think thatill speed up evything. hopefullin the very near future we can com up with new way to dferentiate ipf cells any types of cells.
>> charlie: s therefore this eliminates the debat about embryonic stem cells becaus you no longer need them. yes,e ill them. >> crlie: you will continue to nee embryonic stecells. >> yes. >> charlie: what is your quest about. >> what i want to achieve from my le or the restf it is that what you mea >> charlie: y. >> peoe oftensay why don't you retire d live on ur urels such as they may be but actually tre is a question, and i connect plain it this way. because when i mentioned elier that the nucleus of a specializecell is combined th an egg toake aew organizism, someing pretty substantial has to happen t that nleus has has t under undergo at change. the qution arises what is it in t egg that is doing that.
and th is pretty remarkable characteristicf eggs. other cells can't do that. so there's something special inside egg which can reprogram a nucleus, make it almost go back in its life historyand staragain. and thinktould extremely interesting to know what those components are and how ey work. >> charl: what are my choices? >> youean what are the possibilities? >>harlie: yes. >>ell, there are a number of ideas, but perha the most like one is that there a speciamolecules in the egg which have a way of uncovering the genesthat have become shut off in velopment. so when you me, for example a skincell, theenes needed for brain or heart and oth things are shut down. they're not in use anyme. buwhen you do this kind of reogramming expiment, you have to reactivate those genes, remove the componts wch shut
them down. so the e option, one idea you can have is that the egg has special components thatan remove these repressesas they might be called, which cover u used genes and openp again for further use when the reprogramming kes place. and the problem is to find out what these are. so tt's, i wld say, as such time as is left to me, i wou lo to now how that works and what these are. you might en say why uld th be useful. actually it might,nspite of the brillianork of dr. yanaka, i think if we knew how an e can reprogramthe nucls without any addedgenes, this could actuay be qui useful. and could, for example, enhance the efficiency with which your procedures work. >> charlie: are you interested in this question as well. >> yes, very much. so the efficientity [indiscernible] comped to reprogramming ofur eggs.
so we asme it's something, something very importa. sohat's what i ly want to find out in the rest of my life. >> charlie: if i tak all the lasker award recipients, scientistsngaged in discovery passionate about finding answers, what would they have in coon. >> so one possible idea is this, that the might be people n so inclined to follow the traditional route. you join a lab and the lab is doinall these kinds things it does and youecome a graduate student, post docnd you follow along those lis. it may well be the people who recorded tse particular cognitions, the ones who like to diverge from that path, that road and take a different route, find something uxpected. i will say to mycolleagues, if weo -- we plan an experiment
for you a it ces the wng y around that might be mo teresting. >> charlie: great discovees in time have been me that way, right. >> sly right. so thiis one possible thin yo might findthese variou pele have common. >> charlie: what wld you addtohat? >> i think probably one of the common things amg is they do not believe in textbooks. >> charlie: do not believe in textbooks. >> yes. i tnk that's very important. when i was much younger, i teed to be in textbook that was my bgest failure. >> charlie: explathatmore to me. >> well, we tend to believe tha evything, which is written in textbook arerue, right.
>>harlie: if it's in the textbook, it must be true. >> most of them, many of them. but some of them can be totally ong. and this is our jo to fi out what is wrong in the textbooks. sohat's the case fo dr. gurdon and many people. he did experiments in 1962 when i was bn. >> charlie: in 1962. >> yes. years ago. atthat time man people do think, do think, did think tt eggs and sn cells are differen totally differento many genes have been los in skins so we cannot convert our skin cells backto eggs. that, i do not believe in that
textbook-type thg. that why he itiated his own projecand he succeeded. i stard my own proje, many people told me ihouldn'to this, i would fail. but i did not trust in textbook and i did not trust in what other people td me. >> charlie: that's another quality,sn't it when oer ople say you can do ts, do . >> absolutely ght. >> charlie: o what's the estion that you mostant to benswer? eqvalent to understanding the mechanism of the egg to able - >> so the biggest question for meese the molecular mechanism o ipf cell examinaon. at the moment we've done aost nothing about how and why the refactors can conduct skin cellsnto the emyonic state. so that'the question i bring them to ask in the next 10, 20
ars. >> charlie: that's the questi you want answere in the next 10 or0 years. >> yes. >> crlie: come back and let us know. >> yes. >> charlie: thank you,. >> thank you. >> charlie: thank youor joining us back in a mome. >> charl: we want to turn our look this eveningt cancer, upon its release i 2001 the drug gleevec was haled as a major vance. it offered suessful treatments for patients with a fatal ccer called chnic myeloid leumia. it may providea blue print for aeneration of more effectiv-- joining me is dr. brian druker o the oanize health a science university dr. nicholasydon and dr. charlesawyers of the sloan-kettering cancer cenr. they're all re in new york to receive the prtige lasker award. it ione of the highest honors in all of micine, a i'm
appropriately thkful that they co to this tabl to talk about the implications of what they have learned and what they have done. welcome. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> charlie: tell me about what is significant about gleevec. >>hat gleevec is done it taken chronic myoid leukemia with a le expectancy of thr toive years and turned it into a manageable disease wit a life expectancyhich we assume will be normal. and it's done that because we derstood precisely what drove the gloat of that leukemia and we develop arug to shut down that abnormaty, kill the cancer cells witut harming rmal cells. by doing that we generated an effective n-toxic pill that people take once